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Undergraduate Academic Affairs
University of Washington

UAA units saving trees one ream of paper at a time

Dec 18, 2009 Post to digg Post to delicious Post to facebook Post to twitter Post to google Post to stumbleupon Post to technorati Email article link

Patrick Roberts, associate director of Classroom Support Services, recently noted that the learning environments unit “has redefined the way we work and as a result have reduced the amount of paper prints we generate.” Though the unit prints double-sided whenever possible, organizational changes have contributed to significant reduction in paper use.

Patrick notes that client contracts from the event services group are paperless. What was a 10-page reservation packet is now a PDF and only the signed contract page needs to be printed and returned. Additionally, the Student Technology Fee Equipment Loan Program, which loans digital cameras, projectors, laptops, and other equipment to more than 2,000 students each year uses an in-house developed system for paperless check-in/out for all the loans. In all, Patrick reports, “When we compared 6 weeks of printing last year with this year, our printing volume went from ~16,000 prints to ~6,300.”

That’s a significant reduction prompting the question, “What else is UAA doing to reduce its use of paper?” A brief, unscientific survey unveiled results ranging from personal commitments to a double-sided printing practice to more systemic savings. Good timing, as laws regarding the type of paper state agencies use and paper reduction strategies are coming into effect.

Center for Experiential Learning

Through scholarship applications and review processes, Symposium applications, promoting and administering service learning, like many units on campus, the business of the Center for Experiential Learning required a fair amount of paper consumption.

Some application processes are using Catalyst to lighten the paper load but the Center has made steady progress to incorporate application and review processes, advising notes, and Center data into an online system designed with the Center for Experiential Learning in mind. Dubbed EXPO and built by the Center’s web computing specialist Matt Harris, the system is a little like an electronic health record for a student’s experiential learning activities, helping students connect the dots of their areas of academic interests and streamlining administration in the process.

Honors Program

Last year, the Honors Program received 2,736 applications from hopeful Honors freshmen. Honors enrolled 230 freshmen to make up the 1,500 Honors students on campus. The Program realized paper savings by moving to online application review, online freshman welcome packets, and scholarship applications.

Sum of the unscientific survey of UAA paper savings

Activity Estimated Annual Paper Savings
Online Classroom Support Services Student Technology Fee and event services reservation packet 50,000
Undergraduate Research Symposium proceedings moving online for 2010. 226 page book, ~113 double-sided pages. 90,400
Mary Gates Research and Leadership scholarship application and review process online 15,000
Honors Program online application review 12,000
Online Honors freshman welcome packet 1,500
Online Honors scholarship applications and review process 3,600
Online applications for Bonderman Travel Fellowship 10,000
Total savings 182,500

What this means

At 500 pieces of paper/ream and 10 reams/case we’ll realize an annual savings of 36.5 cases of paper. It takes about 8 trees to produce 12 cases of paper. These actions spare about 24 trees from being harvested. (Source: University Week)

Of course, many of us use 100% recycled paper which does not harvest more trees making the environmental impact more related to energy use in the production of recycled paper. Financially, if a case of paper is $55, then the fiscal impact results in about a $2,000 savings.

An important note is that as of December 31, 2009, all state agencies must purchase “100 percent recycled content white cut sheet bond paper used in office printers and copiers,” according to State House Bill 2287. Another component of the law requires agencies to develop and implement by July 1, 2010, a paper conservation plan to reduce paper use by 30 percent. See this recent University Week article for more information.

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